Above and Beyond: 62-year-old man runs cross-country for Alzheimer's awareness

Jack Fussell runs cross-country to raise awareness for Alzheimer's.
Jack Fussell runs cross-country to raise awareness for Alzheimer's.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A 62-year-old man running cross-country for Alzheimer's awareness is about to reach the Tennessee border this weekend.

Jack Fussell spent about a week in the Tennessee Valley and is now heading to Memphis to continue his jogging tour, "Across the Land 2013."

Fussell began his journey on foot from Savannah, Ga. in January. In Alabama, he made stops in Scottsboro, Huntsville, Decatur and Muscle Shoals.

"I'm not really concerned about my health in any way, shape or form. The most important thing, seriously, is the trip that I'm making." Fussell said.

Fussell's goal is to raise $250,000 for the Alzheimer's Association. He spent Wednesday meeting caregivers at the non-profit's mid-south chapter in Huntsville.

"We can help with support groups, education, referrals, pretty much anything they need," program director Brandi Medina said.

Fussell will make stops in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Nevada before reaching his last stop in Monterey, California.

A Florida native and now Georgia resident, Fussell started jogging regularly to improve his health. Twelve years ago, he weighed 272 pounds. Within 11 months, he lost about 100 pounds.

This year's run however, has another purpose. Fussell visits as many assisted living and nursing homes as he can during the course of his run.

"When I started, I thought it might take me six or seven months, but I think it could take me 10 months because it's not a speed thing anymore. It's an awareness thing," he said.

Those who have heard about Fussell's endeavor have already donated $15,000 and counting.

"People pull over and say, 'do you need anything.' And just to know all the wonderful, awesome people there are," Fussell said.

Fussell runs, jogs and walks roughly 20 miles per day while pushing a 70-pound stroller named "Wilson" – a reference to Tom Hanks' companion in the movie "Cast Away."

The stroller carries a sleeping bag, dehydrated food, water, and a solar panel to keep his phone charged.

But he doesn't always need these things, thanks to the generosity of each town that passes.
"When I started, I thought I would probably be spending 90 to 95 percent of my time in my tent," Fussell said. "I've spent one night in it."

To follow Fussell's journey, visit http://acrosstheland2013.com/p/blog.php

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